Science journalist T.V. Padma from Delhi, India, has begun her stay at the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS) as “Journalist in Residence.” The program of the same name offers science journalists a stay of up to 6 months at the institute and focuses on data-driven research in areas ranging from molecular biology to astrophysics. Candidates from 23 countries applied for the program, which was advertised internationally for the second time last year. The opening for 2018 will be announced later this year.
India-based science journalist T.V. Padma is the sixth “Journalist in Residence” at the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS), where she will remain for five months. The program was advertised internationally for the second time in 2016, and a jury consisting of science journalists and scientists from universities, Max Planck Institutes, and HITS selected Padma out of 40 candidates from 23 countries.
T.V. Padma earned a B.Sc. in Botany (Honours) and an M.Sc. from the University of Delhi, where she undertook special courses on genetics and microbiology. She was awarded the National Science Scholarship for post-graduation studies and also has a post-graduate diploma in bioethics. Padma worked as a science correspondent at India’s leading news wire agency, Press Trust of India (PTI), covering space, nuclear energy, medicine, the environment, and crop research, and later worked on development communication projects at Panos Institute South Asia. From 2004 to 2014, she served as the first South Asian news editor/regional head of SciDev.Net, a not-for-profit, free-access international science website that focuses on science policies and research in developing countries. In 2014, Padma turned to freelancing and has since written for Nature, Nature India, New Scientist, Physics World, BioWorld, and other outlets.
Padma has contributed a chapter on the advent of online science journalism in India to the book “Bridging the Communication Gap in Science and Technology: Lessons from India” (Editors: Bagla, Pallava, Binoy, V. V.), published by Springer in 2017. She was formerly part of SciDev.Net’s team that won the 2005 Association of British Science Writers (ABSW) award for best online coverage of the 2004 great Asian tsunami. She also won the 1993 Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) award for best reporting on health and nutrition issues while at PTI.
T.V. Padma plans to use her stay to complete a thorough grounding in almost all fields of work at HITS, including astrophysics, computational biology, and computational statistics research. She wants to learn more about data-driven science from the researchers at HITS and to interact with German science journalists, but she is also keen to reflect current science and science communication in Germany and Europe in the light of the Indian scientific agenda and science journalism in India.
Since 2012, the “Journalist in Residence” program has offered experienced journalists with a focus on science journalism a three-to-six-month paid stay at HITS. During their time with us, journalists can interact with research groups, implement their own projects, and participate in HITS researchers’ internal colloquia and seminars.
In 2012, renowned German science journalist Volker Stollorz was the first “Journalist in Residence” at HITS. Last year, Stollorz became chief editor of the new German Science Media Center. In 2013, the German freelance TV journalist Pia Grzesiak made intensive use of her stay to look behind the “mountains of data” at HITS, and in 2014, Barcelona-based, award-winning science journalist Michele Catanzaro used his time at the institute to gain deeper insight into the German scientific landscape and establish contacts with German journalists. Michele was awarded “European science writer of the year” last summer for one of the cross-border projects that he began during his stay. In 2015, U.S. science writer Larry Krumenaker did research for e-book projects in science education at HITS, and in 2016, German science radio journalist Michael Stang delved into data-driven research while simultaneously working on new journalism projects.
The next international opening of the program will be announced later this year. See more information and updates on the program.
The Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS) was established in 2010 by the physicist and SAP co-founder Klaus Tschira (1940-2015) and the Klaus Tschira Foundation as a private, non-profit research institute. HITS conducts basic research in the natural sciences, mathematics and computer science, with a focus on the processing, structuring, and analyzing of large amounts of complex data and the development of computational methods and software. The research fields range from molecular biology to astrophysics. The shareholders of HITS are the HITS-Stiftung, which is a subsidiary of the Klaus Tschira Foundation, Heidelberg University and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). HITS also cooperates with other universities and research institutes and with industrial partners. The base funding of HITS is provided by the HITS Stiftung with funds received from the Klaus Tschira Foundation. The primary external funding agencies are the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the German Research Foundation (DFG), and the European Union.